But the doctor, Paolo Macchiarini, at the Karolinska Institute here, had a radical idea. He wanted to make Mr. Beyene a new windpipe, out of plastic and his own cells.
Implanting such a “bioartificial” organ would be a first-of-its-kind procedure for the field of regenerative medicine, which for decades has been promising a future of ready-made replacement organs — livers, kidneys, even hearts — built in the laboratory.
For the most part that future has remained a science-fiction fantasy. Now, however, researchers like Dr. Macchiarini are building organs with a different approach, using the body’s cells and letting the body itself do most of the work.
“The human body is so beautiful, I’m convinced we must use it in the most proper way,” said Dr. Macchiarini, a surgeon who runs a laboratory that is a leader in the field, also called tissue engineering.